THE OLD LAW – PUBLISHED VERSION
1. The Law was made and ordained of old.
2. The Law was made for the Wicca, to advise and help in their
3. The Wicca should give due worship to the gods and obey their will,
which they ordain, for it was made for the good of Wicca as the
worship of the Wicca is good for the gods. For the gods love the
brethren of Wicca.
4. As a man loveth a woman by mastering her,
5. So should the Wicca love the gods by being mastered by them.
6. And it is necessary that the Circle which is the temple of the gods,
should be truly cast and purified. And that it may be a fit place
for the gods to enter.
7. And the Wicca shall be properly prepared and purified to enter into
the presence of the gods.
8. With love and worship in their hearts, they shall raise power from
their bodies to give power to the gods.
9. As has been taught of old.
10.For in this way only may men have communion with the gods, for the gods
cannot help man without the help of man.
HPS & HP
11.And the High Priestess shall rule her coven as the representative
of the Goddess.
12.And the High Priest shall support her as the representative of the
13.And the High Priestess shall choose whom she will, be he of
sufficient rank, to be her High Priest.
14.For, as the God Himself kissed Her feet in the five-fold salute,
laying His power at the feet of the Goddess because of Her youth and
beauty, Her sweetness and kindness, Her wisdom and justice, Her
humility and generosity,
15.So He resigned all His power to Her.
16.But the High Priestess should ever mind that the power comes from
17.It is only lent, to be used wisely and justly.
18.And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess be that she recognize that
youth is necessary to the representative of the Goddess.
19.So she will gracefully retire in favour of a younger woman should
the Coven so decide in council.
20.For a true High Priestess realizes that gracefully surrendering
pride of place is one of the greatest virtues.
21.And that thereby she will return to that pride of place in another
life, with greater power and beauty.
22.In the old days, when witchdom extended far, we were free and
worshipped in all the greater temples.
23.But in these unhappy times we must celebrate our sacred mysteries
24.So be it ordained that none but the Wicca may see our mysteries, for
our enemies are many and torture loosens the tongue of man.
25.So be it ordained that no Coven shall know where the next Coven bide.
26.Or who its members be, save only the Priest and Priestess and messenger.
27.And there shall be no communication between them, save by the messenger
of the gods, or the summoner.
28.And only if it be safe may the Covens meet in some safe place for
the great festivals.
29.And while there, none shall say whence they came nor give their true
30.To this end, that if any be tortured, in their agony, they may not tell
if they do not know.
31.So be it ordained that no one shall tell anyone not of the craft who be
of the Wicca, nor give any names or where they bide, or in any way tell
anything which can betray any of us to our foes.
32.Nor may he tell where the Covendom be.
33.Or the Covenstead.
34.Or where the meetings be.
35.And if any break these Laws, even under torture, THE CURSE OF THE
GODDESS SHALL BE UPON THEM, so they may never be reborn on earth and
may remain where they belong, in the hell of the Christians.
36.Let each High Priestess govern her Coven with justice and love, with
the help and advice of the High Priest and the Elders, always
heeding the advice of the Messenger of the Gods if he cometh.
37.She will heed all complaints of all Brothers and strive to settle
all differences among them.
38.But it must be recognized that there will always be people who will
ever strive to force others to do as they will.
39.These are not necessarily evil.
40.And they oft have good ideas and such ideas should be talked over in
41.But if they will not agree with their Brothers, or if they say,
42.”I will not work under this High Priestess,”
43.It hath ever been the Old Law to be convenient to the Brethren and
to avoid disputes.
44.Any of the third may claim to found a new Coven because they live over
a league away from the Covenstead or are about to do so.
45.Anyone living within the Covendom and wishing to form a new Coven,
shall tell the Elders of their intention, and on the instant avoid
their dwelling and remove to the new Covendom.
46.Members of the old Coven may join the new one when it is formed.
But if they do, they must utterly avoid the old Coven.
47.The Elders of the new and old Covens should meet in peace and
brotherly love to decide the new boundaries.
48.Those of the craft who dwell outside both Covendoms may join either but
49.Though all may, if the Elders agree, meet for the great festivals if
it be truly in peace and brotherly love,
50.But splitting the Coven oft means strife, so for this reason these
Laws were made of old and may the CURSE OF THE GODDESS BE ON ANY WHO
DISREGARD THEM. So be it ordained.
51.If you would keep a book, let it be in your own hand of write. Let
brothers and sisters copy what they will, but never let the book out
of your hands, and never keep the writings of another.
52.For if it be found in their hand of write, they may be taken and arraigned.
53.Let each guard his own writings and destroy them whenever danger threatens.
54.Learn as much as you may by heart and, when danger is past,
rewrite your book, an it be safe.
55.For this reason, if any die, destroy their book an they have not
been able to.
56.For, an it be found, ’tis clear proof against them.
57.And our oppressors know well “Ye may not be a witch alone”.
58.So all their kin and friends be in danger of torture,
59.So destroy everything not necessary.
60.If your book be found on you, ’tis clear proof against you alone,
you may be arraigned.
61.Keep all thoughts of the craft from your mind.
62.If the torture be too great to bear, say “I will confess. I cannot
bear this torture. What do you want me to say?”
63.If they try to make you speak of the Brotherhood, do not.
64.But if they try to make you speak of impossibilities such as flying through
the air, consorting with a Christian devil or sacrificing children, or
eating men’s flesh,
65.To obtain relief from torture say “I had an evil dream, I was beside
myself, I was crazed.”
66.Not all magistrates are bad, if there be an excuse, they may show
67.If you have confessed aught, deny it afterwards, say you babbled
under torture, say you knew not what you said.
68.If you are condemned, fear not.
69.The Brotherhood is powerful and will help you to escape if you stand
steadfast, but if you betray aught there is no hope for you in this life
or in that to come.
70.Be sure, if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will reach you, you will
feel naught. You go to death and what lies beyond, the ecstasy of the
71.To avoid discovery, let the working tools be as ordinary things
that any may have in their houses.
72.Let the pentacles be of wax so that they may be broken at once or
73.Have no sword unless your rank allows it.
74.Have no names or signs on anything.
75.Write the names and signs on them in ink before consecrating them
and wash it off immediately afterwards.
76.Let the colours of the hilts tell which is which.
77.Do not engrave them lest they cause discovery.
78.Ever remember ye are the hidden children of the Goddess so never do
anything to disgrace them or Her.
79.Never boast, never threaten, never say you would wish ill of anyone.
80.If any person not in the Circle, speak of the craft, say, “Speak not
to me of such, it frightens me, ’tis evil luck to speak of it.”
81.For this reason, the Christians have their spies everywhere. These speak
as if they were well affected to us, as if they would come to our meetings,
saying, “My mother used to worship the Old Ones. I would I could go myself.”
82.To such as these, ever deny all knowledge.
83.But to others, ever say, “‘Tis foolish men talk of witches flying through
the air. To do so they must be as light as thistledown. And men say that
witches all be blear-eyed old crones, so what pleasure can there be at a
witch meeting such as folks talk on ?”
84.And say, “Many wise men now say there be no such creatures.”
85.Ever make it jest) and in some future time perhaps, the
persecution may die and we may worship our gods in safety again.
86.Let us all pray for that happy day.
87.May the blessings of the Goddess and God be on all who keep these
Laws which are ordained.
88.If the craft hath any appanage, let all guard it and help to keep it
clear and good for the craft.
89.And let all justly guard all monies of the craft.
90.And if any Brother truly wrought it, ’tis right they have their pay,
an it be just. An this be not taking money for the art, but for
good and honest work.
91.And even the Christians say, “The labourer is worthy of his hire,”
but if any Brother work willingly for the good of the craft without
pay, ’tis but to their greater honour. So be it ordained.
92. If there be any dispute or quarrel among the Brethren, the High
Priestess shall straightly convene the Elders and inquire into the
matter, and they shall hear both sides, first alone and then
93. And they shall decide justly, not favouring one side or the other.
94. Ever recognising there be people who can never agree to work under
95. But at the same time, there be some people who cannot rule justly.
96. To those who must ever be chief, there is one answer.
97. “‘Void the Coven or seek another one, or make a Coven of your own,
taking with you those who will go.”
98. To those who cannot rule justly, the answer be, “Those who cannot
bear your rule will leave you.”
99. For none may come to meetings with those with whom they are at
100. So, an either cannot agree, get hence, for the craft must ever
survive. So be it ordained.
101.In the olden days when we had power, we could use the art against any
who ill-treated the Brotherhood. But in these evil days we must not
do so. For our enemies have devised a burning pit of everlasting fire
into which they say their god casteth all the people who worship him,
except it be the very few who are released by their priest’s spells
and masses. And this be chiefly by giving monies and rich gifts to
receive his favour for their great god is ever in need of money.
102.But as our gods need our aid to make fertility for man and crops, so
is the god of the Christians ever in need of man’s help to search out
and destroy us. Their priests ever tell them that any who get our help
are damned to this hell forever, so men be mad with the terror of it.
103.But they make men believe that they may escape this hell if they give
victims to the tormentors. So for this reason all be forever spying,
thinking, “An I can catch but one of these Wicca, I will escape from
this fiery pit.”
104.So for this reason we have our hidels, and men searching long and not
finding, say, “There be none, or if there be, they be in a far country.”
105.But when one of our oppressors die, or even be sick, ever is the cry,
“This be witches’ malice”, and the hunt is up again. And though they slay
ten of their own to one of ours, still they care not. They have countless
106.While we are few indeed. So be it ordained.
107.That none shall use the art in any way to do ill to any.
108.However much they may injure us, harm none. And nowtimes many believe
we exist not.
109.That this Law shall ever continue to help us in our plight, no one,
however great an injury or injustice they receive, may use
the art in any way to do ill, or harm any. But they may, after
great consultations with all, use the art to restrain Christians from
harming us Brothers, but only to constrain them and never to punish.
110.To this end men will say, “Such a one is a mighty searcher out, and a
persecutor of old women whom they deemeth to be witches, and none hath
done him harm, so it be proof that they cannot or more truly there be
111.For all know full well that so many folk have died because someone had
a grudge against them, or were persecuted because they had money or goods
to sieze, or because they had none to bribe the searchers. And many have
died because they were scolding old women. So much that men now say that
only old women are witches.
112.And this be to our advantage and turns suspicion away from us.
113.In England and Scotland ’tis now many a year since a witch hath died the
death. But any misuse of the power might raise the persecution again.
114.So never break this Law, however much you are tempted, and never
consent to its being broken in the least.
115.If you know it is being broken, you must work strongly against it.
116.And any High Priestess or High Priest who consents to its breach
must immediately be deposed for ’tis the blood of the Brethren they
117.Do good, an it be safe, and only if it be safe.
118.And keep strictly to the Old Law.
119.Never accept money for the use of the art, for money ever smeareth
the taker. ‘Tis sorcerors and conjurers and the priests of the
Christians who ever accept money for the use of their arts.
And they sell pardons to let men ascape from their sins.
120.Be not as these. If you accept no money, you will be free from
temptation to use the art for evil causes.
121.All may use the art for their own advantage or for the advantage of
the craft only if you are sure you harm none.
122.But ever let the Coven debate this at length. Only if all are
satisfied that none may be harmed, may the art be used.
123.If it is not possible to achieve your ends one way, perchance the
aim may be achieved by acting in a different way so as to harm
none. MAY THE CURSE OF THE GODDESS BE ON ANY WHO BREAKETH THIS
LAW. So be it ordained.
124.’Tis judged lawful if ever any of the craft need a house or land and
none will sell, to incline the owner’s mind so as to be willing to
sell, provided it harmeth him not in any way and the full price is
paid without haggling.
125.Never bargain or cheapen anything whilst you buy by the art. So be
LAW OF THE LAND
126.”Tis the Old Law and the most important of all laws, that no one may
do anything which will endanger any of the craft, or bring them into
contact with the law of the land or any persecutors.
127.In any dispute between Brethren, no one may invoke any laws but
those of the craft.
128.Or any tribunal but that of the Priestess, Priest and Elders.
DISCUSSION OF WITCHCRAFT
129.It is not forbidden to say as Christians do, “There be witchcraft in
the land,” because our oppressors of old make it a heresy not to
believe in witchcraft and so a crime to deny it which thereby puts you
130.But ever say, “I know not of it here, perchance there may be but afar
off, I know not where.”
131.But ever speak of them as old crones, consorting with the devil and
riding through the air.
132.And ever say, “But how may many ride the air if they be not as light
133.But the curse of the Goddess be on any who cast suspicion on any of
134.Or who speak of any real meeting-place or where they bide.
135.Let the craft keep books with the names of all herbs which are good,
and all cures so all may learn.
136.But keep another book with all the Bales and Apies and let only the
Elders and other trustworthy people have this knowledge. So be it ordained.
137.And may the blessings of the gods be on all who keep these Laws, and
the curses of both the God and the Goddess be on all who break them.
USE OF THE ART
138.Remember the art is the secret of the gods and may only be used in
earnest and never for show or vainglory.
139.Magicians and Christians may taunt us saying, “You have no power,
show us your power. Do magic before our eyes, then only will we believe,”
seeking to cause us to betray the art before them.
140.Heed them not, for the art is holy and may only be used in need,
and the curse of the gods be on any who break this Law.
141.It ever be the way with women and with men also, that they ever seek
142.Nor should we reprove them for this.
143.But it may be found a disadvantage to the craft.
144.And so many a time it has happened that a High Priest or a High
Priestess, impelled by love, hath departed with their love. That
is, they left the Coven.
145.Now if the High Priestess wishes to resign, she may do so in full
146.And this resignation is valid.
147.But if they should run off without resigning, who may know if they
may not return in a few months?
148.So the Law is, if a High Priestess leaves her Coven, she be taken
back and all be as before.
149.Meanwhile, if she has a deputy, that deputy shall act as High
Priestess for as long as the High Priestess is away.
50.If she returns not at the end of a year and a day, then shall the
Coven elect a new High Priestess,
151.Unless there is a good reason to the contrary.
152.The person who has done the work should reap the benefit of the
reward. If somebody else is elected, the deputy is made maiden
and deputy of the High Priestess.
153.It has been found that practicing the art doth cause a fondness
between aspirant and tutor, and it is the cause of better results if
this be so.
154.And if for any reason this be undesireable, it can easily be avoided
by both persons from the outset firmly resolving in their minds
to be as brother and sister or parent and child.
155.And it is for this reason that a man may be taught only by a woman
and a woman by a man, and women and women should not attempt these
practices together. So be it ordained.
156.Order and discipline must be kept.
157.A High Priestess or a High Priest may, and should, punish all
158.To this end all the craft must receive correction willingly.
159.All properly prepared, the culprit kneeling should be told his fault
and his sentence pronounced.
160.Punishment should be followed by something amusing.
161.The culprit must acknowledge the justice of the punishment by
kissing the hand on receiving sentence and again thanking for
punishment received. So be it ordained.
-These Laws appear to have become part of the GBG BOS shortly after Doreen
Valiente left his Coven (in 1957); they existed at the time that she left.
(They were an innovation at that time, and were one of the things that
the people who hived at that time refused to accept, though not themselves
a reason for hiving.) See Doreen Valiente’s “The Rebirth of Witchcraft”.
-Some of this material was already in the GBG BOS at the time. See the
Farrars’ “The Witches’ Way”.
-They also seem to be present throughout the Alexandrain stream.
(See the Farrars’ “The Witches Way”, and June Johns’ “King of the
-The list I give here is drawn from several published sources:
June Johns,”King of the Witches”
Lady Sheba,”The Grimoire of Lady Sheba”
Janet and Stewart Farrar,”The Witches’ Way”
I used Johns as my primary source, as Sheba is generally full of copyist
errors, and the Farrars don’t give the full text.
I couldn’t find the section headings in any published source, but I included
them anyway because they make the text easier to follow.
-Sheba *may* be a more accurate source than Johns for the GBG version.
(Some of what I took to be typos may well have been GBG-ism’s.)
Johns is probably a better source for Alex Sanders’ own version.
Covens in either lineage have probably cross referenced and ‘corrected’
what they took to be errors. (For example, in Law 60, I use the word
‘arraigned’. Sheba gives ‘engained’, which makes no sense (that we know
of). However, ‘engined’ (meaning tortured) makes more sense in context
than ‘arraigned’. Did Alex Sanders mis-correct the ‘engained’ error ?